Education excellence goes beyond rankings

By STEPHEN DAWKINS

The quality of schools in Shelby County is well known and one of the primary reasons so many people choose to call the area home.

It is still nice to be reminded of this fact, as we were when Niche released its 2018 K-12 School & District Rankings.

Numerous Shelby County public and private schools were ranked among the best in the state, with Indian Springs School claiming the top spot in Alabama private schools for the fifth consecutive year.

Other highlights included Spain Park High School as the No. 5 public high school, Oak Mountain High School at No. 15 and Helena High School at No. 17.

Hoover City Schools, with an A-plus grade, was ranked as the No. 5 school district in Alabama. Alabaster City Schools was ranked No. 20 with an A-minus grade, Shelby County Schools was No. 23—the highest ranking in the state for a county school system.

The rankings, which can be found at Niche.com/k12/rankings/, combine analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education for factors like academics, teachers, culture and diversity and more with reviews from students and parents.

The rankings are a point of pride for local communities, but there’s more to the story.

Schools in Shelby County are constantly striving to benefit their students—even in ways that may not be quantifiable.

A couple of recent examples are Indian Springs School offering a College Application Boot Camp for the first time and Inverness Elementary School enhancing its second-year character program now called “Everyday GREAT to the nth degree.”

The Boot Camp gives rising seniors an opportunity for a head start on the college application process, ISS Director of College Advising Amelia Johnson said.

“Especially toward the end of summer, many students begin to get nervous about what the college application process will bring, so I spend a lot of time providing information and working to help them calm down a little before school starts,” Johnson said.

At IES, Everyday GREAT teaches students about the characteristics of grit, respect, empathy, adventure and teamwork.

“IES is a family and the Everyday GREAT characteristics are a good snapshot of what I hope every student, family, teacher, support staff, administrator and community sponsor experiences when they enter the doors here at IES,” kindergarten teacher Jan Renfro said.

Of course, there are many more examples of local schools’ commitment to students that helps make Shelby County what it is.

Stephen Dawkins is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 524 or by email at stephen.dawkins@shelbycountyreporter.com.